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9 Healthiest Cat Breeds

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9 Healthiest Cat Breeds

By Cheryl Lock

 

Pet owners hope that any cat breed they decide to bring home will remain healthy for the duration of his or her life. Diet and environmental factors have a profound effect on life span and day-to-day health of cats, according to Roger Brown, DVM, and The Cat Fanciers’ Association’s (CFA) scientific advisor and director at large. “Good veterinary care and at least annual physical exams will also reduce the risk of a shortened life span,” he adds. At home, the most important things owners can do to promote their cat’s longevity, regardless of breed, is to help them maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle while preventing unsupervised access to the outdoors, says Jennifer Coates, DVM.

 

But besides diet, exercise, environment, and luck of the draw, certain cat breeds may be predisposed to be “healthier” than others, according to Rachel Barrack, DVM, certified veterinary acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, and Jennifer Maniet, DVM, staff veterinarian at Petplan insurance. “Domestic short haired and domestic longhaired cats are known as the mutts or mixed breeds of the feline world,” says Barrack. “Lacking some of the inbreeding that can be associated with their pedigreed counterparts, these cats tend to be among the healthiest, in my experience.”

 

But, if you’re going the purebred route and you’re wondering which options tend to be the healthiest, you might want to read up on the following breeds: 

Balinese

 

Barrack includes the Balinese in her list of longest-living cat breeds, since these cats have an average lifespan of 18-22 years. According to the CFA, the Balinese takes the elegance and intelligence of the Siamese and throws in a luxurious, silky coat that makes it extra attractive. 

Bombay

 

The Bombay is another option when it comes to long-living cats, says Barrack. With a typical lifespan of 15-20 years, this “miniature panther” is a hybrid breed, known for its mischievous nature and outgoing personality. 

Chausie

 

A relatively new breed, Maniet suggests checking out the Chausie for another healthy cat breed option. According to The International Cat Association (TICA), the Chausie is a mixture of Jungle Cat, which dwells from the Nile Valley to the Caspian Sea, mixed with domestic cats to create hybrids across North American and Southeast Asia. “When several different pure breeds are mated with each other, their genes also mix together, creating a large pool,” says Maniet. “This is known as genetic diversity, and this means that their kittens may be less likely to be born with or develop inherited conditions that their parents were more susceptible to develop in their lives.”

Havana Brown

 

The Havana Brown is another cat breed developed from a mixture of previous breeds (chocolate point and seal point Siamese bred with solid black domestic shorthairs and a dash of Russian Blue, according to TICA) that tends to be fairly healthy, says Maniet. In fact, you can expect about 12-15 years of companionship with your Havana Brown, if you properly care for him.

Japanese Bobtail

 

With a lifespan of approximately 15-18 years, Maniet says the Japanese Bobtail—a very active, outgoing and intelligent breed, according to TICA—is a good option for those looking to bring home a cat that’ll most likely remain in good health for the long haul.

LaPerm

 

Approximately 10-15 years is what you can expect to get from your LaPerm, an inquisitive breed with a loose, light, curly coat. While Maniet points to genetic diversity as one of his founding characteristics for healthier cat breeds, he also points to the unknown as a reason for including some breeds—like the LaPerm—on his “healthiest” list. “Another reason why these breeds are considered the ‘healthiest’ is that we may not know everything there is to know about them, yet,” she says. “As of now, these breeds seem to be less prone to acquire certain feline conditions.”

Nebelung

 

For a longhaired breed with exotic green eyes and a silky blue coat, check out the Nebelung, a cat whose name was derived from the German word for mist or fog, according to TICA. They’re also one of the healthier breeds on Maniet’s list, with a lifespan of about 15-18 years. 

Russian Blue

 

If you’re looking for a stunning shorthaired breed that’s intelligent and playful, look no farther than the Russian Blue Cat. It also helps that they tend to live fairly long lives, says Barrack (approximately 15-20 years, when properly taken care of).

Siamese

 

Again, while there are many important factors in feline health (including vaccinations, nutrition and weight control, internal and external parasite control, etc.), Siamese cats are one of the breeds that typically lives the longest, says Barrack. The graceful, intelligent and social breed can live anywhere from 15 to 20 years, even though they do have a higher incidence of health problems than some of the breeds on this list. Overbreeding related to the breed’s popularity might be to blame, says Coates.

Keep Your Cat Healthy

 

Vets and cat associations alike caution that any list of “healthiest” cat breeds is an estimation, and there is a lot of room for variation within any of the cats on this list. Keep vigilant about your cat’s physical and emotional needs—no matter his or her breed—to ensure yours lives the happiest, longest life possible.

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  • Bombay at #2???!!!
    10/23/2016 10:40pm

    I own 3 Bombays and I absolutely love them. They're beautiful, smart and incredibly loving.
    But anyone who claims that they are the 2nd healthiest breed in the world needs to go back to veterinary school. Or perhaps go to veterinary school in the first place...
    About 7 years ago several breeders in the US got together and shipped in cats from the UK hoping to broaden the Bombay's gene pool. And they didn't do it because the cats were unattractive! They did it because of all the health issues associated with this breed. They are known to be immune suppressed and have issues with their eyes in particular. We gave one of our Bombays a corneal transplant and the other had to have an eye removed. Finally the third one is showing signs. They don't cope with Feline Herpes Virus well at all. About 80% of all cats carry this virus so it's fairly normal. Most cats immune systems throw it off. But Bombays are just too delicate. I love this breed dearly, and will always keep them. But the information that I have read on this web site that claims to be 'medically knowledgeable' is absolutely shameful! For shame!!!!! :(
    Bombays are wonderful! But make sure you have $$ in a health account before you buy one.
    Please visit another site if you would like medically sound advice.

  • 01/16/2017 03:40pm

    Since my last post, I've lost 2 of my 3 beloved Bombay cats to cancer. Both within about a month of each other. I have only 1 left, the little daughter.

    She has sequestered herself to my bedroom and rarely leaves her cat bed. It smells like her Mother and Brother, and she is lonely beyond tears...

    My heart is breaking for her.

    She's an extremely affectionate cat, and she gets along with practically every other animal she's ever met. Except this one reeealy big dog... But that's understandable, after all, she's only a petite little cat. (And the dog is really friendly and wonderful by the way, he's just too big for a tiny 7 lb. cat to not be frightened of...... He's a large breed dog)

    She needs some companionship. And she's the perfect cat to work with it. She has an intense 'mothering instinct' and I think the addition of a kitten or two would do her a world of good. Not all cats are like this. Many would get jealous and reject the new arrivals. But I don't think she would. I think she'd take one look at them, and then start
    washing their faces.... That's just the way she is. And one of the reasons I'm hooked on Bombay cats. Yes, some of them can bicker. But many are extremely easy going and accepting of other animals.

    So in preparation, I started updating my research on this gorgeous, intelligent and affectionate breed.

    A woman named Niki Horner worked very hard to developed this beautiful breed, and it was accepted into the CFA and TICA in the 70's. But a decade or so later, some people began working with the breed to produce
    a cat with a shorter face. It gave the cat a very sweet appearance, and cats with shorter faces began winning more ribbons. This encouraged breeders to produce cats with shorter faces... Today there are 2 facial types in the Bombay breed. The 'traditional' face shape that Ms. Horner bred, and the newer 'contemporary' face shape with the flattened nose and face. The 'traditional' face shape still has a *much* shorter nose than the typical 'happy hybrid', but it's not the flat profile of the 'contemporary' face which begins to reflect the face of a Persian.

    Unfortunately, some other things accompanied the genes that were associated with the shorter, 'contemporary' face. Many kittens were born with a facial/cranial deformity that was very disturbing. They are born without eyes or a nose. Many have a double set of whiskers, and the brain is either protruding from the skull or is split. It's a
    lethal deformity, and the only humane thing to do is to euthanize the kitten, as it will eventually die anyway. It's heartbreaking....

    And there's more. Many of the 'contemporary' kittens that are born seemingly normal, develop a variety of health conditions once they hit 5 or so years old. These conditions run the gamut from weakened immune systems, to IBS, food allergies, eye issues, mange, dental problems, susceptibility to cancers and more. Personally, I believe that they all tie in to a weakened immune system. It raises havoc in many areas of the cat's health, allowing a wide variety of disorders to set in.

    But there are breeders out there that are more concerned with winning ribbons and acclaim, than they are with producing healthy cats. Some breeders don't have many cats around greater than 5 years old. Kittens that won't make the show ring are sold, and retired Moms are re-homed. Many have few cats older than 3 or 4 years old in their homes.

    But not all. There are some great breeders out there who put the health of the cats first. Eventually, a few responsible breeders recognized the problem, and
    sought to breed cats without the genetic issues. They imported 'traditional' genetic lines from Europe, and bred from those lines. Those lines are now rivaling the 'contemporary' Bombays in the show rings! And they're healthier. Much, much healthier.

    Unfortunately, there are very few breeders in the US breeding these 'traditional' lines. They need to be encouraged. And breeders of 'contemporary' lines need to be educated as to the future health of the cats they breed (that survive). Because the Bombay is a gorgeous, intelligent and affectionate breed. But it needs to be robust and healthy! Or eventually, we'll loose it. And the heart break of the people who adopt and love these cats is painfully devastating. Forget about the cost of the vet bills, (and you can bet your wallet *will* be a lot lighter). Loosing someone you love is heartbreaking. Just ask my lonely little girl who sits alone in her bed... Cats do grieve.

    2 breeders that I know of are breeding 'traditional' lines. One is Vindouro Burmese & Bombays owned by Denise Hall. Here's her facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/vindouroburmeseandbombays/about/

    Another is Kats'nKlamms owned by Wendy Klamm. Here is her website - http://www.katsnklamms.com/index.htm

    If there are any other breeders of 'traditional' lines that I have missed, I apologize. Please feel free to leave your link in a follow up post.

    Bombays are beautiful, intelligent and affectionate cats. But if you want one, may I suggest you consider the 'traditional' cats instead of the 'contemporary' cats. The short face does look sweet, but it won't look so sweet when it's in pain and dying at an early age. Your heart
    will break. Many breeders of contemporary lines offer health and genetic guarantees. So did the cattery we purchased from. But what do you do? Ask for your money back? Get angry?It makes no difference if you've already fallen in love with the cat and it becomes ill.

    So check out the breeders offering traditional lines. Spare yourself the pain. And get a beautiful, healthy cat.

  • 01/16/2017 09:36pm

    Found another traditional breeder! It's Graymark Cattery run by Margaret and Raymond Stevens. Their website is at http://www.graymark.com/Default.aspx

    They're in northern California.....

    :)

    -Sharon

 
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